The United States and North Korea have agreed on a compromise to get the communist nation to resume dismantling its nuclear program, a news report said on Friday.
The deal also calls for Washington to remove Pyongyang from the US list of states sponsoring terrorism, a key North Korean demand over which the communist nation has been flouting a disarmament pact, Seoul's Chosun Ilbo newspaper said.
The reported breakthrough was reached when chief US nuclear envoy Christopher Hill visited Pyongyang last week, the paper said quoting an unnamed South Korean official.
It said the United States is expected to announce the deal as soon as President George W Bush approves it.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency, also without naming sources, carried a similar report earlier.
The reports of a breakthrough contradict an announcement on Thursday by the UN nuclear watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency that North Korea has banned its inspectors from the entire Yongbyon nuclear complex. That move was taken as a sign that the North plans to pull out of the disarmament pact.
South Korea's Foreign Ministry spokesman Moon Tae-young said he has no information on the reports.
If confirmed, the deal would cap tension in the nuclear standoff that has spiraled following the North's decision to abandon the 2007 disarmament-for-aid pact reached in six-nation talks involving China, Japan, the two Koreas, the United States and Russia.
In mid-August, Pyongyang stopped disabling its Yongbyon nuclear facility and has since worked to restore it.